Interviews: It’s OK to be Nervous

By Shannon Graham

Sweaty palms, nervous butterflies, inability to focus.  Sound familiar?  This perfectly described me as I was getting ready for an interview with a women’s athletic wear company about two years ago.  I had done scholarship interviews before, but this was my first real job interview.  Not knowing how to prepare for it, I printed off my resume, looked up the company’s mission statement and called it good.  No practicing, no researching, no mentally preparing.  Needless to say, I tanked the interview.  It took me a couple of weeks to get over the fact that my interview was so bad I did not even get a call back, but thinking back on it, if I were the manager I would have done the same.  However, after working in Career Services for two years, I have learned a thing or two about interviewing and now even though I get nervous, I go into interviews feeling prepared.

Preparation is the best cure for sweaty palms on interview day!
Don’t fear the handshake: preparation (not rubber gloves) is the best cure for sweaty palms on interview day!

It is okay to be nervous for an interview.  I think this is important to say, because it is not often included in interview preparation advice.  Being nervous demonstrates that you care about the position you are interviewing for and it is something you really want.  That is a good thing.  However, being nervous in combination with not preparing enough can be detrimental to your interview.  Prepare as much as you can so that you feel confident, then embrace the nerves and remind yourself that they are a good thing.

Here are some general guidelines I always follow when preparing for interviews.

  1. Analyze the job description
  2. Clarify your strengths and values
  3. Research the employer
  4. Anticipate questions and prepare answers ahead of time
  5. Prepare questions for the employer

“Research the employer” is in bold, because it used to be the last thing I thought of when preparing for an interview, but it can prove to be one of the most important.  If the interviewer asks you why you want to work for their company, you can bet that person is looking for evidence that you know what the company is about and have a specific reason on why you want to work there. If you provide a specific reason that includes details about the company, interviewers can see that you have taken the time to learn about their company and truly care about working there.

These hints can guide you in your own preparation, but don’t stop there! There is a lot more you can do before your interview, including making use of the resources in Career Services.

  • Check out the Interviewing page on the Career Services website
  • Meet with a staff member to talk about interviewing strategies/preparation
  • Hold a mock interview with a staff member

Summer is quickly approaching, so that means the hunt for summer jobs and internships is happening now.  For those of you graduating, you may be looking at jobs in the field you want your career to be in.  Interviewing is a crucial step in the job hunt process, so start preparing now!

You’re Hired! 9 Ways to Rock Your Interview

By Emily Neelon

I slam on my breaks as my car lurches to a stop at the red light, missing the bumper of the car in front of me by an inch. I swear under my breath and check the clock on my dashboard. I have twenty minutes until my interview and I can’t find the building. Ten minutes and ten close calls later, I finally find the office and a parking space.

I run down the street in my wedges, pulling at the hem of my dress. Sweat seeps into the thin cotton covering my back, a visual representation of my ineptitude. I rush into the air conditioned lobby and press the elevator button, once twice three times, attracting the attention of the men and women in crisp business suits with briefcases standing near by.

In the time it takes the elevator to rise to the eighth floor, I have to catch my breath and collect my composure. With mere minutes to spare before my interview is scheduled, I walk with shaky legs up to the reception desk.

Job interviews are terrifying–I’ll be the first to admit it. I have applied and interviewed anywhere and everywhere from department stores to newspapers to fast food restaurants to real estate offices. I got some of these jobs and I didn’t get others (like the position I was interviewing for above). Every rejection stung, but rather than let my failures get to me, I decided to think of my bad interviews as practice for better ones.

You’re probably reading this in a panicked attempt to prepare for an upcoming interview. After obsessively checking the UP student job board, asking every store and restaurant in St. Johns if they’re hiring, and filling out too many applications to admit, you’ve finally scored the meeting you’ve been working so hard to secure. Elbows deep in your job search, you may not have considered what you should do once the time came to actually meet and impress a possible employer.

From one job seeker to another, here are my nine tips for making every interview count:

  1. Come prepared

No matter what company you are looking to work for, interviewers will ask general questions about why you want to work for them. What about their company attracts you? What will you bring to the table if hired? What about you is interesting, notable, and makes you a good fit for the position? Make sure to have answers prepared to these types of basic questions.

Additionally, it’s super important to know what the company’s mission statement is:  what they stand for and what they are trying to achieve through their business. Make sure to do research on the company prior to your interview.

  1. Show up on time

Don’t be me. But also don’t be the person who shows up to your interview an hour early. To save yourself the embarrassment of sitting anxiously in the waiting room for a lengthy amount of time or running in twenty minutes late with sweat seeping through your button-up shirt, plan to get to your interview ten minutes before it starts. Don’t be afraid to map the route, make sure you have enough gas, and set four alarms. I won’t judge.

  1. Bring copies of your resume

Visit Career Services during Express Advising. A staff member can sit down with you and help you make sure your resume and cover letter are perfect. Then, after all of the hard work you’ve put into your resume, make sure to bring a few copies to your interview for the employer to look over while they are speaking with you.

professional attire
Dressing professionally at interviews leaves a positive impression on the interviewers, and can also help you feel more confident.
  1. Dress appropriately

A flannel and beanie are the fashion staples of Portlanders. Although these pieces are perfect for rainy Oregon weather, they are nowhere near professional or appropriate for an interview. Make sure to verify whether the place you are interviewing at is business professional or business casual and dress accordingly.

  1. Act confidently

The thing standing between you and the job you want is that first impression you make upon the interviewer. Walk into your interview with your head up and best smile on. Give your interviewers a strong handshake upon meeting and leaving and maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Speak with self-assurance.

  1. Be yourself

Although it’s important to look confident, it’s equally important to be genuine. If you aren’t a really peppy person, don’t act overly excited. An employer will be able to tell if you are putting up a front.

  1. Tell stories

Remember that one time you saved your group project from catastrophe on presentation day or managed to calm down a crazy customer at your retail job? Now is the perfect time to share those stories. An employer is likely to ask when you’ve acted as a leader or how you’ve solved a problem in the past and having anecdotes to share will leave a lasting impression. Keep in mind, it’s never a good idea to over-share. The interviewer does not want to hear your entire life story.

  1. Ask questions

By asking the interviewer questions, you will look engaged in the conversation and excited about the company. Asking questions also shows that you are a good listener who can synthesize information. Prepare some questions in advance and also ask the ones that come up during the interview.

  1. Send thank you notes

Within one day of your interview, send your interviewers a handwritten thank you note or letter expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to meet with them. If the interview process is moving quickly, a thank you email may be better. Let them know that you are excited to hear back and remind them of your contact information so they can get in touch with you.

Good Luck!

For more information on how to prepare for interviews, check out the Career Services resources online.

Mark your calendars: The First Avenue Career Expo is just around the corner!

First Avenue Career Expo

The OLAPC First Avenue Career & Graduate School Expo will take place on Thursday, April 9 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Chiles Center.

Go to to register and to view a list of attending organizations.**

“Link In Live: Real People, Real Connections” will take place from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm as a part of the Career Expo. This is a unique opportunity to connect with professionals representing a variety of organizations, including many alumni from UP. Sign up for this event when you register for the First Avenue Career Expo!

Career Fairs: Be In the Know Before You Go

Preparation is key to career fair success: steps every job seeker should take before and during a career event to enhance their candidacy. Prior to the First Avenue Career Expo on Thursday, April 9th, Career Services will be hosting a variety of events to help you prepare.

EXTENDED Express Advising hoursMonday, April 6 – Wednesday, April 8

Have your resume reviewed before handing it out to employers at the Career Expo!

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday: 10 am – 4 pm
Thursday & Friday: 10 am – 12 pm

“How to Work a Job Fair” Workshops**

All workshops are 30 minutes and take place in the Career Services lobby (Orrico Hall, lower level).

Monday, April 6: 4:00pm

Tuesday, April 7: 1:30pm & 4:00pm

Wednesday, April 8: 1:30pm

**If you register for the Career Expo in advance and attend one of these workshops, your $10 registration fee will be reimbursed at the expo! 

College Central Podcasts: Career Fairs – Be In the Know Before You:

Please contact Career Services at 503.943.7201 or if you have any questions. We hope to see you at the Career Expo on Thursday, April 9th.

“A Month Without Computers” – Event Review

By Emily Neelon

This week marks UP’s first annual Digital Identity Week, a five-day event shining light on how our online personalities affect our real-life selves. As part of the weeklong inspection of our digital identities, Clark Library showed the film “Disconnected: A Month Without Computers” on Tuesday.

“Disconnected” follows three students at Carleton College who take on the challenge of going without a computer for thirty days. The participants were apprehensive about disconnecting from technology for an entire month and felt their computers were essential to their success in the college classroom. The students also admitted they use their computers frequently for non-academic reasons and waste much of their time jumping from one website to another to another. Other students who heard about the participants’ project could not wrap their minds around the concept of disconnecting from computers for an entire month.

One professor interviewed in the film pondered the unhealthy dependence students and professionals alike have on technology and tools it provides.

“I worry about a type of technology addiction,” he noted.

Once the students began the thirty-day technology free challenge, they became more productive and spent time doing things they usually wouldn’t do, like reading the newspaper, cleaning their rooms, and spending time outdoors. The participants also found that their ability to complete schoolwork was not adversely affected by a lack of access to computers.

At the end of the month, each of the students found their disconnection from technology hadn’t disconnected them from their lives in any negative way. They seemed to appreciate the break they had taken from technology and did not feel a strong desire to spend time online anymore.

“Disconnected” and the students it features raises questions about our dependence on technology here at UP. Following the film, UP students engaged in a discussion about our collective obsession and dependency on technology in college culture. Computer Science major Kai Jorgenson feels technology can become more of a hindrance than help with prolonged use.

“It feels like homework after a while,” Jorgenson said about staying active on social media.

Academically, many of our classes require us to research online, write papers on Microsoft Word, and post responses to Moodle. We communicate through the UP email network and are expected to register and access important documents on the Pilot Portal. We also stay informed about events on campus through social media initiatives. This reliance on technology to complete many important tasks is problematic.

Finance major Guangju Wei believes our addiction to technology has caused us to be unable to interact with one another in person.

“We are a head down generation.”

Digital Identity Week is a series of events designed to get students, faculty, and staff reflecting on and talking about their Digital Identity(ies) and how those identities are changing how all of us think, act, and live.

Are you one person on Instagram but someone else on LinkedIn? Do your parents or colleagues know one of your digital selves but not others? Do you have an “academic” digital self and a “personal” digital self, or even more? These are all issues and themes to be investigated, discussed, and examined during Digital Identity Week. With an event each day, you can plan to attend them all!  

For more information, visit the Digital Identity Week homepage ( and follow the events on Twitter (@digitalidup; #digitalidentityUP).

Linking in to LinkedIn

By Emily Neelon

Everyone has been talking about it and everybody seems to have one but you. You keep hearing your peers talking about “making connections” and “building their profiles,” but you have no idea what they’re talking about. You feel pressure to make an account of your own, but don’t understand how it works or if there’s a protocol to follow. What am I talking about? LinkedIn of course.

LinkedIn is a professional social networking website that allows you to reach out to professionals you admire and hope to gain career guidance from. By making connections with individuals in the workforce you hope to stay in contact with, you can build your professional network.

Although LinkedIn follows the same basic premise of maintaining contact with others like any other social networking website, it is very different from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. LinkedIn is not the place to post passionate statuses about political controversies, pictures of your friends at parties, or tweets about your crush on that celebrity.

Your profile on LinkedIn should reflect what you have accomplished in the past and what you hope to accomplish in the future professionally. Your connections on the website should be people you hope can help you develop in the workforce, not just casual acquaintances you met on the bus.

LinkedIn is an excellent place to stay in contact with individuals you’ve met at professional conferences or networking events. It’s also a great way to reconnect with past coworkers.

Have a great conversation? Meet someone with shared interests? It might be worth connecting with him or her professionally on LinkedIn.
Have a great conversation? Meet someone with shared interests? It might be worth connecting with him or her professionally on LinkedIn.

Unsure of where to start after you’ve made your profile? Here are my top four tips to using LinkedIn:

  1. The summary at the top of your profile is equivalent to the lead of a news article or the first sentence of a book: it either keeps the viewer interested or causes them to stop reading. You want the person on the other side of the screen to stay engaged, so make sure your summary is interesting and eye catching.

This is a great place to briefly speak to your current and past work experience, your passions, and what you hope to achieve in the future. Do not brag about your accomplishments and DO NOT write a memoir in this small space. Keep it concise and captivating.

  1. Attach examples of your work to your work experience. This will allow a viewer to see if what you say you can do matches up with what you can actually do. On my profile, I’ve attached articles I’ve written for The Beacon and at my internship, so a potential connection can see that my passion for writing is legitimate. Because your LinkedIn profile acts as an interactive resume, why not back up what you’ve accomplished in the past with tangible examples?
  1. When sending an invitation, make sure to type a personalized message in place of the generic one. Keep it simple but honest. Your message should convey why you hope to connect with the individual.
  1. Follow groups like Pilots Guiding Pilots on LinkedIn. This is a group of UP students and alumni willing to connect and help each other advance in their own careers.

Happy connecting!

Want help creating your LinkedIn profile and building your network? Come to the LinkedIn Labs taking place on Thursday, March 19, and Thursday, March 26, in Career Services. Go to the Career Services calendar for more information!

Informational Interviews: Part 2

By Cristina Scalzo

Continued from Informational Interviews: Part 1.

You are walking around campus, and you see that person you met last weekend through a mutual friend. The question inevitably runs through your head as you awkwardly walk by: “Should I say hi? Do they even remember me?” You begin to sweat as you weakly make eye contact and whisper “Hi.”

This awkward situation is exactly what you don’t want to happen after meeting with a professional for an informational interview. That is why it is crucial to take follow-up steps after the interview to make sure they remember you and know who you are.

The first thing you must do is thank the professional. Writing a thank you card or email will set you apart in the professional’s mind. Only 5% of jobseekers write thank-yous, so if you can be in that 5%, you will be guaranteed to stand out. In many (but not all) situations, the best way to do this is through snail-mail. Think about how many emails you get per day…20? 30? Professionals are overwhelmed with email, and if the goal is to stand out, a letter will be more personal and unique.

A thank you note sent within 24 hours can help start future meetings on a positive note.
A thank you note sent within 24 hours can help start future meetings on a positive note.

So you send your thank you note, and some time has passed. Instead of letting yourself slip under the rug, follow up with the professional up to three times a year. This way, when you need their help, more information, or are looking for a job down the road, they will remember you. Here are some ways to follow up:

  • Send them a brief update about how you are doing in your career or major. For example, if you get a new job in their field, send them a short email letting them know and thanking them for helping you progress in your career.
  • Send them a link to an article that reminds you of them or their industry. If you met with a pediatric doctor, when you see an article about up-and-coming medical technology, send them the link and mention how excited you are to hear about this new invention.
  • Another simple and easy way to follow up is to add them to your LinkedIn account.

Doing these things to follow up will create friendly feelings between you and the professional. If you do ever need a favor from this person, they will likely be more willing to help you out because you have shown you are invested in your career and in maintaining a relationship with them.

The take away: Don’t be afraid to say hello. Saying hello sets you apart in a positive way. So whether you are walking around campus, or following up with a professional, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Are you doing multiple informational interviews? Check out the Informational Interview Tracking Sheet on the Career Services website. Keep track of all your informational interview follow-up in one place!

Making a Standout Resume

By Briana Rossi

If you are applying for a job, you will be required to submit a resume with your application. A resume is more than just a piece of paper with your work history; it shows the prospective employer all the great things that you have accomplished and what you have learned from your experiences. It is your chance to validate that you have the qualifications of a good employee and the skills to make you successful if chosen for the position.

You want to make a good first impression with your resume, as an employer will make a decision to keep or toss it after only scanning it for a few seconds. So it is important to make your resume stand out from the other applicants.

Here are some tips that I have found helpful when creating my resume:

Use Action Words: Word choice can make a huge difference.  When describing your accomplishments use words that show action, personality traits, and the nature of the experience. Refer to the Active and Descriptive Words and Phrases handout on the Career Center website for a list of great words to use.

Tailor: Use the job description as a guide for what skills to highlight on your resume. This will make it easy for the employer to clearly see that you have the skills needed for the position. Only include relevant information that is applicable to the job or is related to the organization’s mission.

Be Clear, Concise and Visually Appealing: Your resume should be organized, easy to read, and well laid out. This can be done by maintaining consistent formatting throughout and being mindful of the visual flow of information. Include headings and bullets to help with organization and keep things concise. Generally, your resume should only be a single page. Make it so the employers can have an understanding of your accomplishments and skills by just can scanning your resume.

Be Personable: Resumes are important for showing your skills and this can include interpersonal skills. Including information that helps the employer understand who you are and what you care about can be a great addition. You can do this by adding volunteer experiences, a profile statement, or links to professional social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn, Twitter). Keep in mind that you should make these additions relevant to the employer or position.

Making your resume stand out can help you land in the “keep” pile, but is only the first step in your introduction. Make sure that you are able to follow through and talk about your experiences more extensively if needed.

Remember that the Career Center has Express Advising Hours every day (M T W 2-4 PM and Th F 10 AM -12 PM) to help you with writing and reviewing your resume!